Friday, December 25, 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

I Wish You a Merry Christmas

There's nothing like being a "people watcher" . . . especially during the holidays. It's fascinating-a little disheartening at times, but also uplifting when you are blessed to see some cool stuff happening during this time of the year. (See my previous post for an example of that cool stuff!) Unfortunately however, this season can bring out the best AND the worst in people. As I have spent the last Christmas and this current one working a second job in retail, I can tell you for certain that there are some people who desperately need to have a Merry Christmas. Below is my wish for one particular customer. With all my heart, I hope he has the best Christmas ever.

Dear Sir,

I wish I had been able to complete your transaction from start to finish yesterday. I really enjoyed talking with your young son as he was handing me items he had chosen to give his mom for Christmas. Your son looked to be about the same age as my oldest daughter. I wondered if maybe they were in the same grade. He seemed so pleased with the job he had done picking out those things for his mom. It appeared that he was paying with his own money, as he had a fistful of bills wadded up in his hand. I really wanted him to be able to get the most for his money and of course, we both know what happened next.

When I tried to point out a better deal on one of those items on sale, I truly didn't realize that the item he had already chosen was also on sale. I do apologize for the error. I am human. Humans make mistakes.

While I am hurt that you chose to begin yelling and screaming at me, causing an entire store to grow silent and uncomfortable, I can only imagine that you are perhaps under some stress yourself these days. You are not alone. Trust me.

What was most concerning to me was the look on your young son's face during your tirade, as I attempted to offer my apologies. I wondered if this was a typical display of behavior for you. For his sake, I hope not. I hope that he wakes up on Christmas morning looking forward to time with his parents and not wondering what he might be facing when he greets you after waking up.

I apologize for turning my back on your son, and for asking my manager to finish up the transaction for me. You see, I have my own "stuff" too and you triggered an avalanche of emotion in me at that moment. For everyone's sake-especially your son, I knew at that one moment, my staying at the cash register would have been a bad decision.

As I wiped the tears from my eyes in the privacy of the back room, I must admit to being mortified and hurt. At that moment, admittedly it was all about me-it was about my hurt, my embarrassment and my "teetering on the edge of losing it." That all changed however, when my manager came back to check on me after she finished up with your son. As she hugged me and reassured me I had done nothing wrong, do you know that she told me that your wife felt horrible about your public outburst. Did you see your wife begin to sob as she apologized for your behavior? Did you hear your wife ask my manager to apologize to me? I can only wonder.

Here's the amazing thing though. There's this thing called grace. Notice how I used the word "amazing." Immediately, I felt a tugging on my heart to extend you some grace. You were obviously having a bad moment. Sadly, that moment extended next to your wife. I can only guess that it may have extended to your son as well. I felt so sad for you. Sure, I was still hurt and humiliated at best, but I have a Savior who has extended grace to me time and time again. I continued to think about it for the rest of the night and through the day today.

As I stood and sang with the choir this morning in church, I felt the overwhelming presence of my Savior come over me. My eyes filled up with tears. THIS is what Christmas is about!!! Our Lord came to earth in the flesh!!! He was born in the worst of conditions, but He came anyway!!! He came for you and for me!! Is that not mind-blowing???? I sure think it is! How can we even begin to let the small things of the holidays get to us like this when He did this for us?

I made myself a promise at the start of the holiday season. I will also be the first to admit that I'm not doing such a great job at keeping it. I promised myself that I was going to stop more often. I was going to take more deep breaths. I was going to not let the small stuff get me down. It's Christmas after all. It'll be over in the blink of an eye. Do I want my family to remember my weepy moments and sheer exhaustion or the moments that I stopped and decided to forgo the work at hand and spend time with them instead?

That's a silly question. You already know the answer. And you know something else? I've prayed that very thing for you several times since our encounter yesterday in the store. I've prayed with such a passion that you would find joy in this Christmas season in an undeniable way! I'm going to continue to pray that very thing not only for you, but also your wife and son. What a gift that would be for them!!!!

So, from me to you, I wish you the merriest Christmas ever. I pray that your heart can feel that "busting out of the seams" kind of joy that mine did this morning and that it's contagious to everyone around you. I pray that you smile and laugh a lot! I pray that you feel that feeling that is undeniably the presence of our Lord tugging on your heart.

And not only do I wish you a Merry Christmas, but I also wish you love. When it's all said and done, that's really the only thing that matters-not only during Christmas, but every day of the year!

In His Grip,

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Holiday Happenings . . .

Whew. 'Tis the season . . . and what a whirlwind it's been so far. It seems that every time I turn around, there's something on the calendar that involves the likes of Thing 1 and Thing 2, but that's ok. People with grown children continually remind me that these days will be gone before I know it, so I'm savoring each event.

Mackenzie has finished her last day of preschool for 2009. She had a Christmas program on Friday, but was most excited about the reception following, where she could load her plate up with cookies. Ah, that's my girl. LOL!

Earlier in the week, however, her class did some shopping for their 6 year-old Christmas angel named Mark-chosen by the teachers. After several notes went home to the parents-explaining that their desire was for our children to earn $2 by helping out around the house, shopping day finally arrived. As their teacher divided the bills into piles, the preschoolers started counting out loud in unison, starting with $1. Evidently the preschoolers did a lot of work, because they didn't stop chanting until after squealing $102! Right after learning how much money they had to work with, they discussed the rules of shopping . . . how to behave, where to meet, etc. Their teacher leaned in close. "What's the most important thing to remember when we get to Walmart?" she asked. One little boy immediately shot his hand in the air.

"Have PATIENCE" he sighed. Us moms standing along the sidelines giggled. His mom grinned and pumped her fist in the air. "That's my boy," she cheered quietly.

Off we went. Per Mrs. M's instructions, the children scattered with their moms to choose one toy that they thought Mark might enjoy. The picture below shows a perplexed Mackenzie holding up an item she thinks that boys might like to have. (That's the problem with the high level of estrogen in this house . . . we just try and do educated guessing when it comes to the mystery of little boys.)

After the kids had made their choices, the next destination was the bike aisle ("more room to have a meeting," explained Mrs. M.). Here is where she held up her class' choices one at a time for a vote to determine if (1) all the kids felt it was worth keeping and (2) they had enough money for all the approved items. Upon holding up the first item for the power of democracy to begin, she announced that the "Mega Deluxe Lego Set" was going to cost $98 . . . leaving no more money left for any other gifts for their angel. One little boy spoke up and said "NO way-that's WAY too much money!" The other kids quickly echoed similar sentiments and the Lego set went into the reject pile. Onward and upward.

Once the class made their final decisions, they made their way over to the checkout. Mrs. M handed each child a few bills in order for them all to help "pay" for the gifts.

The photo below shows the pile of loot that Mark will be unwrapping on Christmas morning. They were so excited with their choices. I don't think I will ever forget this field trip!

Last week was also busy for Cassidy. Along with students from other schools in the district, she sang in the annual "This Is Our Story" concert. Last year was my first opportunity to attend the concert and I walked away-totally blown away by the talent in our school district. In addition to vocal and instrumental presentations is an art show featuring all age groups in the district. The photo below shows Cassidy next to a piece of her artwork that was chosen for display. (It's the one with the people, directly to the right of her head.)

She also was busy at work with the K-Kids group at school. Each year, along with the Student Council, they put together the secret recipe for reindeer food and sell it to anyone seeking to attract Rudolph and his friends to their house. The money received benefits the Salvation Army AND anyone living at the house with a lawn sporting reindeer food. It's a win-win for everyone involved! Here is a photo of the kids taking a break to pose for me. The daughter of yours truly is bouncing up and down in the very back, sporting a Santa hat with a sign taped on the front. In other words, you can't really see her.

As the bake sale and reindeer food prep take place, so does the "Secret Santa" shop at school. I can remember these types of shops at my own elementary school. God bless each and every single one of my loved ones for their display of awe and wonder upon opening each gift I lovingly chose for them. ;-) Oh my. Enough said. Here is a photo of Thing 2 carefully labeling her chosen gifts. I think this year's winner of the "best gift ever" will be Papa Dean. I'd go ahead and tell you what Mackenzie thought seemed the most appropriate gift for her grandfather, but he reads my blog (I think) and I don't want to spoil the surprise. Perhaps I'll save that for a post later this month . . .

And that, my friends, is what we've been up to at our house . . . craziness, chaos and laughter (I did mention Papa Dean's gift, right?). Life is hectic, but it's good.

Really good.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Dose of Medicine AND Humility

I picked up my youngest child from preschool this morning . . . noting that the medicine I'd given her before school for her sniffles seemed to be working nicely. She was so excited when she saw me standing outside her classroom. If she could have turned herself inside out, I think she would have done just that.

"Mommy?" she said excitedly.

"What sweetie?" I answered.

"Mrs. Holmes knows how to wipe my nose really REALLY good!" she replied.

"Well . . . good!" I ventured, not quite sure of where she was going with this.

"Yeah," she added. "She actually does it MUCH better than you do!"

Nothing like a slice of humble pie, served by my youngest offspring, to go along with my morning coffee. It's one more reason to love mornings.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Turkey Days, Fake Trees and Black Friday Madness . . . Lots of Firsts For Me On Thanksgiving Weekend!

Has it really been over a week since I've updated the blog? Definitely! Things have been crazy busy around here and lengthy stretches of time available for blogging are minimal at best. Right now I have a few different options of other things that I could be doing with my time, but blogging is more fun than all of them combined. Here goes a lengthy update on the holiday and weekend that followed . . .

Thanksgiving Day looked altogether different for our family this year. Normally we head south and meet up halfway with my Aunt Sass and her family. Due to you-know-who and his newly repaired knee that is not-quite-yet-fit for lengthy times in the car, we stayed home but sent our girls along with my parents to meet up with the relatives.

As soon as it appeared that there was no way Gregg could handle the trip, I became contemplative . . . quietly mulling over a huge decision . . . one that I had never given any thought to-until now. After much more thought, I knew it had to happen.

I was going to make a turkey. (gasp)

Make no mistake. This was a huge decision and I didn't come to it lightly. You have no idea how many people I talked to, how many websites I searched and the frantic call I placed to the Butterball hotline. (There really is such a thing, by the way. I'd have never believed it if I hadn't dialed the number myself and talked to the nicest woman about my turkey dilemma.) Even Gregg looked somewhat doubtful when I breathlessly came in from the grocery store one week ago and said "I DID IT!! I BOUGHT A TURKEY!!" His response was that it would have been fine with him to buy sliced turkey from the deli and to have sandwiches. I turned on my heel and lovingly put our turkey right into the refrigerator. Because I know you can't wait to hear the rest, I must tell you that I remain faithful to my fan/s. I live-blogged from my kitchen on Thanksgiving Day:

9 am: Decide to get started on dinner. First up: get dessert out of the way (not eating it, making it). Realize that I didn't do so hot at trying to recall the ingredients needed for creme brulee and decide that a trip to the grocery store is in order for just one more pint of cream. Off I go.

10:07 Minor setback. Turkey is still slightly frozen. Off to the sink it goes.

10:21: Creme Brulee is in the oven.

11:30: Operation turkey prep begins. Realize I don't have any sage for that nifty little recipe for a rub I found online at 11:30 pm last night. Oh well.

Noon: Express difference in opinion with my husband as to the method of cooking the turkey. He has been watching A LOT of television this past week and has struck up a friendship with Alton Brown on the Food Network. It would appear that Alton is getting his way AND is advising me from the laptop computer that my hubby has lovingly placed on our kitchen table to help guide the process.

1:23: Internal temperature of turkey is 176 degrees. Four more degrees and we're nearly home free. My potatoes are just about ready, innards of turkey are simmering for stuffing project ahead and I'm watching the bread rise slower than molasses. Thankfully I have back-up dinner rolls if the bread is a no-go. I should probably set the table.

Suffice to say, this was all that I managed to do in the attempt at live-blogging during the process. Holy cow-things go fast when you're trying to prepare a meal of that type AND blog while doing so. Not happening again.

I will say that the turkey was mighty tasty once it was finally done and THAT'S all I'll say about that. Onward and upward.

I accomplished another "first" on Thanksgiving Day and put up our new artificial Christmas tree. Normally we're a "real tree only" family but crutches and sharp objects don't really go well together. We unanimously decided to give Daddy a break this year and go artificial. After painstakingly undoing and "fluffing" all million-and-one branches, I came to the conclusion that I probably could have accomplished another first and chopped one down myself in a fraction of the time. After patting myself on the back for assembling and fluffing branches without calling an artificial tree hotline, I headed to bed. Friday morning awaited me and so did my 6 am start time at work. Black Friday madness was a mere few hours away.

Mind you, I love to shop with the best of them, but I am not a get-out-of-bed-early-to-be-a-part-of-the-madness kind of girl. Therefore, I have never been an early Black Friday morning shopper. I've heard stories, I've seen pictures and I've listened wide-eyed to people regale me with their tales, but I've never believed them.

Until now.

Because I'm slightly paranoid (wait a minute-I've got to go make sure I turned the oven off), I set my alarm for much earlier than necessary in order to make sure that in case traffic was a little heavy or in case it would be difficult to find a parking spot, I would have plenty of time to make the 5 minute commute to work from my house. Gregg and I joked about it the night beforehand. Surely it wouldn't be too bad.

Another first for me . . . an eyewitness account of what craziness ensues on the morning of Black Friday. People actually get up BEFORE the sun does in order to shop! Are you kidding me?? At the sight of headlights for miles near where I work, I grabbed my phone and started texting Gregg at the stoplight. I wrote "This is INSANE! You wouldn't believe this!" Once I saw that a few parking spots were available near the store where I work, I headed a few stores away over to Kohls, pulled into a parking space and headed in. I had about an hour-and-a-half to kill and what better thing to do at 4:30 am than check out what Kohls looks like on Black Friday morning.

Ah . . . a few of you are with me. You know!!!! Yes my friends-at that hour, you walk into Kohls and see the lines straight ahead of you. Follow the line and you will discover that it winds all the way around the outer aisles of the store in order to end at the registers. Seriously.

I'm sure that my mouth was hanging open. I officially became a gawker. Unbelievable. I whipped my phone out again.

"In Kohls now-you wouldn't believe it. CRAZY!!" I knew that once Gregg awoke from his slumber he would appreciate the text.

I walked right out of Kohls and decided to get serious. I had to get to work before it was too late. As soon as I found a spot and parked, I started walking and also called the store. The assistant manager answered.

"Jen, it's me Kari! I'm heading to the door. Can you let me in?" I saw her appear from the back room and head to the front door. As I made my way past customers lined up to get in, I was greeted with "Are you opening up early?" "What time can we come in?" I laughed and said "You people are either really nuts or extremely dedicated!!" They laughed in reply and seemed content to continue hanging out watching through the glass once Jen let me in.

Thankfully, the day was crazy busy. It went by quickly, the sales were good, my manager was thrilled and I only encountered one crabby customer. I was scheduled for Saturday and Sunday as well and I have to say that other than the man who stood next to me hissing, growling and barking at me and then the 12-ish year-old girl who threw herself on the floor and threw the worst temper tantrum for her dad that I have EVER seen in my entire life, it was a good weekend for the retail gig. And yes. I am telling the honest truth. Hissing, growling, barking and temper tantrums were all part of it. Just ask my mom. I feared she would knock some of her ribs out of alignment because of laughing so hard as I was telling her about it.

So that, dear friends, is my weekend in a nutshell. A few nuts indeed!

The Christmas season has arrived! I pray that above all, I remember the reason for the celebration-in spite of the craziness and frantic nature that ensues. I need to remember that the focus needs to be on the baby in the manger. I need to remember to quiet my soul and let Him speak to my heart. I need to stop and take in the words to "Silent Night" even during the times that it doesn't seem so silent. I need to stop and breathe-not only for myself but also for my family.

I also need to remember one other minor detail . . .

Buy a pre-cooked ham. Not a frozen turkey.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


This week just seems appropriate to bring Curious George in to pay a visit to the blog. The illustration above shows the waiting room where George had to sit before he got that shot that was shown in my previous previous blog entry. Another page from one of my favorite books . . . I love Curious George!

Whew. What a week. And to think . . . it's only Thursday.

I am so blessed. In the past several days, I've been reminded of the love, support and friendship that the Lord has given me through incredible family and friends.

Gregg has been down for the count. Literally.

An old high school track injury has been creeping back to haunt him over a number of years now. He finally gave in and decided to have some repair work done, so I found myself playing the waiting game while he was in surgery earlier this week.

It was an interesting time-a little surreal . . . if that makes any sense. It reminded me of times I've sat in an airport terminal and wondered about the reunions and the partings between people in the midst of planes coming in and going out. What kind of stories could people share?

After kissing Gregg and sending him off into the hands of his surgeon, I entered a waiting area holding several others waiting for their loved ones. Off to my right was a mother and her adult son or son-in-law. It appeared that maybe they were waiting for her daughter or his wife to come out of surgery. To my left was an older couple-just before Gregg was taken to surgery, they were hugging an elderly woman who went into the operating room prior to Gregg. Across from me was a woman-maybe about my age. She was waiting for her husband. And so it went. Several other people were scattered in the room-all hunkered down-waiting for the white phone on the desk to ring, alerting each one to the news that their loved one had just been moved to recovery.

I'm not a patient person. In fact, prior to the surgery itself, I teased Gregg-assuring him that I would be so good at caring for him-reminding him of how patient I am. No photo could accurately portray the rolling of the eyes from my husband in response to my comment. I made sure, in my prayer time on the morning of his surgery, to NOT ask the Lord for patience. We all know that NO good can come of that! You want patience? Don't ask for it because He'll give you situations which require it tenfold!

So, it was a bit ironic that the Lord saw fit to dose me with some extra amounts-seeing as how I consciously tried to avoid the topic altogether with Him throughout that morning. One by one, I watched people get up and leave that waiting room after the white phone beckoned them onto other areas of the hospital. The mother of the couple to my left was in and out in the blink of an eye. The mother and adult male with her waited a little longer. At one point I happened to be within earshot of their conversation between each other. She had mentioned something to him about having told some people at her church about their loved one. He nearly spat back at her, angrily admonishing her with "you tell everyone at that church EVERYTHING!! They don't need to know EVERYTHING!!" I know it was a private moment. I couldn't help it though. I looked into her eyes-trying to convey sympathy. She'd reached out to her church family-just as I had done with a few members of mine. It's what we do.

Minutes ticked by. I visited the coffee machine. I visited another room because of too many trips to the coffee machine. As I moved from one place to another, I saw eager family members heading toward Labor & Delivery-where new lives were beginning. In the opposite direction was the ICU waiting area, where I saw family members huddled together-faces stained with tears. We were those people three years ago-when we lost Gregg's dad. I wanted to go into that room-hug complete strangers and tell them that no matter what happens, the Lord remains faithful through it all.

As the minutes ticked by, the waiting area emptied out. Everyone was gone.

Except for me.

I found myself smiling at times, shaking my head in disbelief. I didn't ask for the wait-after all, I'd made sure to not pray for patience. It was all good . . . minor surgery in the grand scheme of things. I really didn't need any of that patience stuff.

But still . . .

Just short of the two hour mark, a man sat down next to me. As I turned to him, I saw it was his surgeon.

"Guess what?" he smiled. "It's all done!" I felt myself exhale. Minor surgery. No big deal. Gregg was fine. So was I.

My patience, however, might need just a bit of tweaking.

Monday, November 16, 2009

George Has Nothin' On This Kid

I love this book.

For anyone not familiar with it, "Curious George Goes to the Hospital" is AWESOME! I am told that during the first couple years of my life, I spent more time in the hospital and doctors offices than out of them. Somewhere along the way, Nanny and Poppop gifted me with this book.

Today it sits in my curio cabinet, worn and well loved. I dusted it off when Cassidy was a second grader and I got to be the mystery reader one day in her class. I dusted it off again this past weekend to remember just how bad it was for George to get a shot. I'll spare you the play-by-play, but suffice to say, George's reaction prior to the injection was entirely more dramatic than after the needle stick itself. Still . . .

George has nothin' on my kid.

The kid in question would be Mackenzie.

Before anyone sends me hate mail ('cause I know this whole vaccination thing is controversial), let's agree to disagree and leave it at that. Mackenzie's immune system is in the basement these days and when her doctor looked at me in Urgent Care last Sunday night and said "get this fever down for 24 hours and get in my office ASAP for the H1N1 vaccine" my mind was entirely made up. Now, on with the story . . .

Friday was the day. I kept the plans to myself, fully knowing that a head's up would mean nothing but trouble for whoever had to deal with the likes of Thing 2 that day-namely her darling preschool teachers. The hour approached and finally we arrived at the doctor's office with her older sister in tow. As we pulled into the parking lot, Mackenzie piped up. "What're we doing here, Mama?" she asked. I breezily answered that we needed to stop in for a few minutes for something. A few minutes later, we were ushered into an exam room.

Our favorite nurse (whom shall forever be known to me as "the needle artist" because her needle sticks are pain-free) popped her head in and gave Thing 2 a quick glance. "Does she know yet?" she whispered. I cheerfully smiled and shook my head side and side. She glanced back at her small patient. "Are you going to tell her?" she asked me. I sighed. Here goes nothing.

In my brightest, cheeriest voice possible, I broke the news to Mackenzie. Tears immediately arrived on the scene (not mine) and she slid off my lap, looking to make a break for it. Another nurse popped her head in the room. "Do you need help?" she asked. Judy, a.k.a. Needle Artist, nodded. At once, two other women entered the room.

Adults: 4. Crying Children: 1.

Judy looked at me. "I think it would be best to put this in the side of her thigh because her arm is so thin. Can you get her pants down for me?" I nodded as I watched my own flesh and blood dive under the end of the exam table, nearly taking out a floor lamp in the process. I got on my hands and knees, crawling into the corner where my young offspring sat shuddering. I wrapped one arm around her torso and the other under her knees. Just when I thought I had her securely in my arms, she arched her body, wiggled out of my grasp and crawled in the opposite direction. I doubled back from the opposite direction as she frantically looked for a means of escape. I heard one of the nurses quietly murmur "oh my." Cassidy stood near the wall with her hand over her mouth giggling softly.

Once captured, I wedged her between my knees and fumbled for the snap on her jeans. I pulled the zipper down and then moved onto pulling the jeans down. The jeans wouldn't budge. I pulled up her shirt, only to discover that she had managed to curl every single finger around her belt loops and hang on for dear life. I pulled and tugged. So did she. Finally, it seemed that I was winning the battle when the child went limp and collapsed to the floor. I stood her up again, made another inch of progress with the jeans and she collapsed again. And again. And again. It reminded me a little of what it would be like to eat not-quite-yet-set Jello with a fork . . . frustrating, impossible and infuriating all at the same time.

Meanwhile, the 3-woman needle brigade looked on in astonishment. I looked at them and in my kindest voice possible said, "Can I get a little help here?"

Somehow, some way, we managed to get the jeans down and her body positioned as best as possible. With everyone positioned as they were, it was impossible for Mackenzie to see what was going on. At the touch of the alcohol pad to her leg, she let out a scream. Cassidy continued to giggle. I shot a look in Cassidy's direction and told Mackenzie it would be over before she knew it. I think at that point, she let out a low growl. Or maybe that was my own voice I heard . . .

The needle artist stood upright again. "All done!" she said happily. The other women looked at me; color had drained from their faces. I nodded sympathetically. Mackenzie immediately stopped crying.

"It's done?" she asked. Judy nodded. I shot a look at Mackenzie. "You were crying and carrying on so much, you couldn't even feel it, could you?" She shook her head sheepishly. The needle brigade quickly left the room. Cassidy stood off to the side, still holding her hand over her mouth.

We finally exited from the exam room. I looked at the nurses and thanked them.

"I promise," I said as I held my right hand in the air, "that I will try at ALL costs to NEVER put you ladies through this again." They smiled and reassured me that it was ok. As we left the building however, I had visions of them adding Mackenzie's name to a wall-of-horrors with a Sharpie marker. Surely at their annual office Christmas party, Mackenzie will make the 2009 Top Ten list of most memorable patients to walk in their doors.

As we drove away, I dreamed about the possibility of a nap. I glanced in the rearview mirror at Thing 2.

"That didn't hurt a bit," she smiled.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Living Proof . . .

I had an incredible opportunity to visit Springfield, Illinois this past weekend and worship with nearly 9,000 other women (and a few brave men) at a Living Proof Ministries event featuring Beth Moore and Travis Cottrell. I've participated in many of Beth Moore's Bible Studies at our church and was looking forward to hearing and seeing her live. In the photo below, I assure you that she was indeed "THIS close" to me!

Our women's ministry coordinator began planning this trip last winter. The wait to get to this weekend seemed like a long one, but it was well worth it!

Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. Psalm 27:14

"Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks." John 4:23

Did I mention that the convention center holds 8,800? Beth told us that this was the first sell-out for a Living Proof event AND that the convention center hadn't seen the likes of a crowd our size since Elton John came to town in the 90's. (Even then, he himself didn't have a sell-out!)

"Let the assembled peoples gather around you.
Rule over them from on high" Psalm 7:7

The worship time was amazing. The Lord showed up in a powerful way and I can honestly say that His presence was literally overwhelming!

Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Psalm 100:2

It was a joyful time, indeed!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Crazy Is As Crazy Does

About a year ago, when we gathered at my mother-in-law's house for Thanksgiving, Gregg was talking about the most recent Nebraska game that we'd attended that season. In mid-sentence, one of his cousins interrupted him and said "you went to that game?" When Gregg answered in the affirmative, his cousin continued on.

"You drove all the way to Nebraska?" he asked. "For a football game?"

Gregg looked at him like he'd lost his marbles.

"Yes," he replied. "Yeah . . . it's only 8 hours."

His cousin continued. "Let me get this straight . . . you leave on a Friday morning . . . you D-R-I-V-E all that way, go to the game the next day and drive all that way back on Sunday?" he asked, shaking his head. He muttered, "I wouldn't even do that for Purdue" (which happens to be his alma mater).

I waited for my husband's response.

"Then you," he sniffed, "are not a true fan."

I stifled my laughter. It wasn't the first time we've been called crazy for driving 16 hours within the span of 48 hours for the Huskers. A lot of people don't "get it" and think that we're crazy-truly crazy. The funny thing is that there are a lot more people out there who are even crazier than us.

So, we went crazy again last weekend . . . Friday morning out, Sunday afternoon in. Midway into the eight hours, we started noticing a problem with one of the tires on the car. Undeterred, we got back into the car, drove a little slower than normal and discussed our game plan. As Gregg drove, I got the laptop out and researched tire businesses located in Omaha. As only the dear Lord could do, a quick search of "get-you-in-and-out-quickly" types of places revealed a location right across the street from Husker Hounds. Want to buy a shower curtain or use grilling tools emblazoned with the Husker logo? Husker Hounds is your place! Want to kill some time while waiting for tire service? Husker Hounds is your place! I'm pretty convinced that as I yelled out a "woooooohoooooooooo" of glee, I heard Him laughing at me.

I hate to brag, but I'm pretty sure that our conversation with the nice man at the tire place led to a nice discount for the service portion of the bill. When we gave him our address and it quite obviously revealed that we were out-of-towners, he motioned toward the red attire we were both wearing and asked if we were fans. (ahem) "Yes sir, we most definitely are fans AND we drove all this way to attend the game tomorrow."

He high-fived us both and I'm happy to report that we were on our way again within 45 minutes of our new tire purchase. (clapping hands)

Game day arrived and we headed to Lincoln-confident of a Husker win. Sadly, things didn't turn out that way and by the end of the game, fans were quiet. That's never a good thing-especially in a stadium that seats 80,000+. Nebraska lost to Iowa State (7-6) and actually had more turnovers than points. Ugh! But, we remain faithful. True fans take the good and the bad with the ugly. That much was ingrained into my upbringing by D.K. Meyer himself (aka Poppop) and I went a step further and congratulated a young Iowa State fan as we headed back to our car. He gave me a thumb's up, after which Gregg tried to convince me I'd traumatized him by approaching him with congratulations. I'd like to think otherwise. Hopefully someday he'll remember that encounter and that at least one Nebraska fan in his path played nice and was a good sport in light of the defeat that day.

On a brighter note, I have one more autograph on my Husker jersey. Pre-game, Gregg and I visited the Nebraska bookstore, where former Husker player Zach Potter was signing autographs. I was reminded again of just how big some of these guys are. Wow!

And while I'd like to think I'm not superstitious, I have to say that I'm still a little "wigged-out" by the new culmination of Nebraska's famous "tunnel walk." Rather than tear out onto the field in a full-out run from the tunnel, they now w-a-l-k four across, linking arms. It was too low-energy for my liking. I'd like to see them eat raw meat or something as they attack the field but that's just me and for some reason, none of the coaching staff saw fit to consult me about this new phenomenon. (shrugging)

Sunday found us driving home-still shaking our heads in disbelief. Crazy. 7-6, 8 turnovers. Just crazy. Onward and upward.

Cassidy celebrated spirit week at her school. Wednesday was "Crazy Hair Day." I think she hit the mark pretty well. Even funnier is that the once-orange hair spray had turned nearly hot pink by day's end.

And have I mentioned Thing 2 and preschool lately? They're doing SCIENCE!! Seriously. I don't think I did science until I was 12. Last week she greeted me with "Mommy! Today we learned that magnets attract iron, metal and steel AND it even works through a glass of water!" I looked at her in amazement.

"Do you know what steel is?" I asked.

"Nope," she replied.

Science. In preschool. Now THAT's crazy. But fun too-just look at what they did yesterday during the Halloween party . . .

Gigantic bubbles result from building up pressure with a mixture of dry ice, warm water and soap. Pop them and you get smoke. Cool stuff. I want to go back to preschool.

And last on my blog update is Halloween . . . below is Hermione and her little cat Crookshanks.

And here's a look at Trio-Times-Three of Alaina (as Word girl), Chloe (as Captain Huggyface) and Mackenzie.

They're cute AND crazy . . . about each other!

Happy Fall, Happy Harvest, Happy Halloween and everything in between!

And as always, Go Big Red!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Catching Up

It's been a busy few weeks in our corner of the world . . .

We've been celebrating the grand opening of our new addition at church,

enjoying football season (in spite of the Texas Tech game),

praising God that we didn't need a new transmission for Gregg's 4Runner after all,

taking field trips with Mackenzie's preschool classmates,

discovering that nearly ALL the winter clothing that fit the girls last year does not fit this year,

getting Halloween costumes ready,

cheering on Cassidy for her winning entry in a t-shirt design contest,

keeping Walgreens and our doctor busy and in business for another month,

and enjoying the last of the roses . . . at least until next summer.

Perhaps life will slow down a bit . . .

until I suddenly realize that there are only 66 days until Christmas.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Who Wants a Freebie???

This post has been relocated to the following page:

Friday, September 25, 2009

From the Mouths of Babes

Me: (moaning and holding head in hands)

Mackenzie: "Mommy, what's wrong?"

Me: (more moaning) "I have a bad headache."

Mackenzie: (stricken look on face) "Is it from me?"

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Never Say Never

I love football.

Let me clarify. I love college football. Professional football is fine too. In fact, as I write this, I'm watching the Chicago Bears play-mainly because former Husker Zach Bowman is starting today. but give me a college game and my Nebraska Cornhuskers and I'm a happy girl.

While growing up in Omaha, Nebraska, I thought that certain members of my family were a little uhm . . . over the top when it came to "the ways of the Husker fan." Don't get me wrong. I was a fan back then too, but the passion I observed in others was lost on me. At times it even seemed a little (dare I say?) silly.

Case in point: on football Saturdays, if it was an away game and my grandparents weren't among the throngs of red people trekking to another state, we would sometimes go to their house to watch the game all together-provided, of course, it was televised.

There was NO missing any part of the game if we were at Nanny and Poppop's house. There were at least 4 televisions all tuned into the game and at least one radio. You could be in nearly any part of their house and be tuned in. When the action proved to be too much for someone to handle and pacing was necessary to withstand the agony (usually Nanny), the anguished individual (Nanny) was encouraged to get out of the current room and go to a different television. If people (Nanny) wanted to speak at an inopportune moment, they were given a finger . . . pointing straight in the direction of a different room with a different tv. Television screen too small for comfortable viewing? No problem. A quick nudge in the direction of another tv location took care of it. By the end of a game, family togetherness was laughable. And if you were a kid who wanted to talk or make any noise (like breathing) during a game, forget it.

As a kid, I knew I'd never get like that when I grew up and became an adult Husker fan.

So yesterday, my mom called me. We had about 1 1/2 hours 'til kickoff.

"Hi Honey! Do you want to come over for the game? We're not televised, but we could at least listen together."

Me: "Uhm . . . Gregg said it might be available online at ESPN360. I don't know . . . "

Mom: (excited) "Oh wow! So we could actually watch it together?"

Me: (hesitantly) "You don't have wireless do you?"

Mom: (confused) "I don't think so . . . why?"

Me: "I don't want to have to share the screen . . . if I could bring my own computer and watch it, we could each have our own screen. Hey, I'll call Papa and see if maybe there's a way we could make this work."

When I hung up, I chided myself. I've become what I swore I wouldn't. I was turning down an invitation to my parents' house all in the name of not wanting to share a monitor. Duh. Oh well. No time to dwell on the issue. I had to call Papa Dean.

Sadly, the phone call resulted in no luck. No wireless. No splitter. Nada. I was relegated to watching the game solo (if it didn't fall victim to a blackout) or having to huddle with another person in front of the screen. Hmmm. Decisions.

You'll be glad to know that I chose the family togetherness option. And ESPN360 didnt fail me! The Huskers were not only audible but visible as well AND I never had to nudge anyone out of my way. Of course, I perhaps failed to mention that Gregg and Dean were both working-leaving only two of us to compete for viewing comfort yesterday.

If it weren't for the shushing and show of "not right now" in the form of my hand waving away the likes of Thing 1 when she appeared in the middle of some nail-biting action, I have to say that I did ok yesterday. I shared. I played nice. So did my mom.

Nanny would have been proud. Mind you, she would have been in a different room, BUT she would've been proud. :-)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Extreme Room Makeover

For anyone who checks the blog regularly (all two of you), you may have noticed a lack of attention to it lately. Call it paint fumes, frustration with the wallpaper steamer or overuse of Downy Fabric Softener (which, by the way, does NOT come out of throw rugs if you happen to spill it by mistake). Or . . . you can call it:

Extreme Room Makeover 2009-the Cassidy Edition.

After a lot of talking about the possibility of doing a new color on Cassidy's walls and giving her a loft bed, Gregg and I made good on our promise to "someday" do something different in her room and so below is our "BEFORE" photo . . .

followed by the "AFTER" photos . . .

Having chosen a new brown and pink striped comforter last fall (yep-that would be twelve months ago for those of you doing the math at home), she chose to have one wall painted brown with the remaining walls painted pink. Pepto Bismol Pink. (Actually, I think it's cute.)

Gregg, bless his heart, built her a long awaited loft bed. It's been wonderful to give her some extra floor space with the newly opened up area underneath her bed for her desk and beanbag chair. The board against the wall is the new spot for tacking up all those things that kids love to TAPE to their walls.

All in all, the whole project took about a week. In all honesty, a good portion of that week was about cleaning, purging and sorting through all sorts of treasures in her room prior to Operation Demolition. It's nothing short of amazing to experience the difference of opinion as to the definition of "keepsake" and also how many items really can fit under a bed.

I need to give a huge thanks to the folks at MyBlogSpark for helping out with this makeover. While I would have loved it if one of them had shown up at my front door with a paint brush and drop cloth and insisted on painting, I still GREATLY appreciated the arrival of a brand new Swiffer Wet Jet just in time for some extra thorough cleaning in the midst of our project. Initially I had some doubts about the whole cleaning system, but I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised at how well it did on our wood floors. I was even more excited to find out that the multi-purpose cleaner also comes in some other fragrances like Open Window Fresh and Febreze Lavendar & Vanilla Comfort. (And frankly, for anyone else out there with a 10 year-old daughter, we could all use a little comfort after sorting through collections of broken necklaces, mismatched earrings, dried-up nail polish and bottles of body glitter.)

So, from me to you, the Swiffer Wet Jet gets a "two thumbs up." So does the feeling of satisfaction at being done with this project.

Now, will someone please make Mackenzie stop asking "when are you going to do my room??"

After all . . . I need to find her a new comforter first. ;-)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Happy Anniversary To My Hubby!

16 years of marriage . . .
2 beautiful daughters . . .
artwork presented to us in honor of our special day . . .
Life is good!!!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

This post has been relocated to the following page:

Monday, August 24, 2009

Happy Birthday Mackenzie!

My baby turned 5 years old today.

I'm not quite sure how this happened. Surely it was just a few days ago that I held her in my arms as I got acquainted with her as a newborn baby. Somehow . . . 5 years have flown right on by us in the blink of an eye.

We celebrated in grand style this weekend. Just as we did with her older sister, we welcomed age 5 in with a tea party-complete with china cups and saucers, little treats, beautiful cakes, pretty girls in twirly dresses and Gregg reprising his role as the crazy butler!

No tea party would be complete without a manicure for the
big event . . .

. . . special moments with Daddy, Nanna and Grandma . . .

. . . giggling at that silly butler . . .

and singing and dancing with cousins.

Even Ozzie came to help celebrate the special day!

And the best part of all?

Sharing special days like this with family . . .

It just doesn't get much better than that!